Venison vs Beef: Which Is Healthier?

Updated: Dec. 08, 2022

Curious about venison? The naturally lean meat is worth a try. Learn about the benefits of venison vs. beef in this simple guide.

Venison is a naturally lean, protein-rich meat that’s worth trying. As an alternative red meat, it’s often compared to beef. Here’s the deal on the health benefits of venison vs beef.

illustration of cow and deer Sydney Watson/Taste of Home

Is Venison Healthier Than Beef?

Venison meat is leaner than beef. Deer are wild and grass-fed, and generally naturally leaner than cattle. Trimmed of fat, a 3-ounce portion roasted provides about 135 calories and 3 grams of fat. That’s only 1 gram of fat per ounce of meat.

In comparison, a 3-ounce portion of beef sirloin roast has 160 calories and 6 grams of fat. That’s twice as much fat per ounce of meat.

However, because ground venison is so lean, it can easily dry out when cooked. Many butchers will add beef fat to ground venison to add moisture. It’s not unusual for 5 to 10% beef fat to be added. If you’d like a lower-fat product, you can ask the processor to add less beef fat. It’ll make an extra-delicious addition to our recipe for venison stew.

Cholesterol in Venison Compared to Beef

Venison has between 83 and 95 mg of cholesterol in a 3-ounce serving. Ground beef that’s 85% lean has slightly less, about 77 mg in a 3-ounce serving. (Avoid these foods if you’re watching your cholesterol.)

Venison Protein vs Beef

Venison is richer in protein than other red meats, meaning it will fill you up and keep you sated longer. A 3-ounce serving of venison has 26 grams of protein, while the same amount of beef has 24 ounces of protein. Try it out in our reader-favorite venison stromboli recipe.

Iron in Venison vs Beef

Four ounces of venison provides 50% of your daily iron intake. Venison is rich in nutrients including vitamin B1 and B6, as well as niacin and riboflavin.

Need an iron boost? Try these iron-rich recipes.

Is Venison More Expensive Than Beef

Depending on the time of year and your location, venison is often cheaper than beef. Ground beef costs about $4.50 per pound, while ground venison can be as low as $1.00 per pound.

Want to save money on beef? Here’s a guide to the grades of beef.